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ISM Code 2010

imoA number of very serious accidents which occurred during the late 1980’s, were manifestly caused by human errors, with management faults also identified as contributing factors.

Lord Justice Sheen in his inquiry into the loss of the Herald of Free Enterprise famously described the management failures as “the disease of sloppiness”.

In 1989, IMO adopted a resolution, Guidelines on Management for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention.  The purpose of these Guidelines was to provide those responsible for the operation of ships with a framework for the proper development, implementation and assessment of safety and pollution prevention management in accordance with good practice.

Once a company has developed and implemented their Safety Management System, it must be audited by an independent third party company authorized by the administration of the vessel’s flag state.  If the company is found to comply with the requirements of the ISM Code, it will be issued a Document of Compliance (DOC).  Then each vessel operated by the company must be audited.  If found to be compliant, the vessel will be issued a Safety Management Certificate (SMC).

A ship must have on board a valid Safety Management System Certificate and a copy of its company’s Document of Compliance.  Without them, port state control organizations will detain the vessel.  Thus, the SMC becomes the vessel’s “license to operate” and the DOC the company’s “license to manage ships”.

The ISM Code requires that the company:

  • Establish a Safety and Environmental Protection Policy.
  • Define responsibilities and authority both ashore and afloat.
  • Appoint a designated person (or person).
  • Define the Master’s responsibilities under the Code.
  • Provide adequate resources and personnel.
  • Develop plans for shipboard operations.
  • Identify and prepare for all emergency situations.
  • Report all accidents, incidents and hazardous occurrences.
  • Ensure ship and equipment are properly maintained.
  • Follow strict document control procedures.
  • Conduct Internal Audits and Management Review Meetings.

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